Cocaine Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Learn About Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine, which is a powerful and illicit stimulant substance, is often abused for recreational purposes by those looking to obtain a high. Cocaine, which is also known as “coke,” is a drug that can produce feelings of power, extreme euphoria, and invincibility. The abuse of this substance can also enhance an individual’s perception, heighten senses, invoke grandiosity, and increase self-esteem. Cocaine can be smoked, injected, or snorted. However the high that comes from it is often short and rarely ever lasts more than a half hour. The sense of pleasure that this substance causes, as well as the short period of time that a high is sustained, often causes cocaine users to continually use more and more of it to achieve the desired high. As the dosage that is being consumed increases, or the frequency with which individuals are consuming the substance increases, changes begin to happen within users’ brains. These changes can lead to the development of tolerance, addiction, and dependence. Once this addiction has developed, it can be tremendously challenging for individuals to defeat. However, with effective cocaine addiction treatment, it is possible.


Cocaine Addiction Statistics

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), roughly 0.3% of adults ages 18 and older suffer from cocaine use disorder. The office of the National Drug Control Policy also states that approximately 3.6 million individuals use cocaine regularly within the United States.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Cocaine Addiction

A variety of causes and risk factors have been linked as possibly affecting an individual’s likelihood of developing cocaine use disorder. Some of these risk factors can include:

Environmental: According to the APA, there are a number of ways that an individual’s environment can impact his or her likelihood of developing cocaine use disorder. Some environmental factors can include being exposed to cocaine prenatally, growing up in an unstable home, having parents who abuse/abused cocaine, and being exposed to violence within the community.

Risk Factors: There are some additional risk factors outside of environmental factors. Below are some other ways that an individual can become more likely to abuse cocaine:

  • Ease of access with which one can obtain cocaine
  • Possessing an impulsive personality or other such personality traits
  • Having a history of childhood conduct disorder
  • Suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder
  • Being surrounded by individuals who abuse cocaine or other drugs

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

The signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse will vary from individual to individual, but some of the most common can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Continuing to abuse cocaine despite having the desire to quit
  • Abusing cocaine in increasingly larger amounts over longer periods of time than originally intended
  • Participating in dangerous or high-risk activities in order to obtain cocaine
  • Rapid speech
  • Hypervigilance
  • Failing to take care of responsibilities at home
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work
  • Acting differently in social settings than is normal for the individual
  • Engaging in repetitive movements
  • Jumping from topic to topic in conversation

Physical symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased bodily temperature
  • Elevated or lowered blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscular weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite

Cognitive symptoms

  • Paranoia
  • Experiencing intense cravings for cocaine
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Lacking emotional reactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Experiencing episode of unwarranted anger
  • Heightened states of irritability and agitation


Effects of Cocaine Addiction

When individuals are continually abusing cocaine, they are putting themselves at risk for developing serious health issues. All areas of their lives will be impacted in one way or another as the abuse of cocaine continues. Some of the many ways in which cocaine use can significantly impact an individual can include:

  • Financial turmoil
  • Loss of one’s sense of smell
  • Failing to attend to one’s occupational responsibilities, possibly resulting in unemployment
  • Malnutrition
  • Interaction with the law
  • Liver, kidney, or lung damage
  • Loss of child custody
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system
  • Familial conflict
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Marital strife or divorce
  • Cardiac arrest

Co-Occurring Disorders

Cocaine Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Unfortunately, it is common for those who abuse cocaine to struggle with symptoms of other mental health illnesses at the same time. Some of the most common co-occurring conditions can include:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Gambling disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Know the Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of cocaine withdrawal: When an individual has been abusing cocaine regularly and attempts to curb his or her use or stop entirely, he or she is likely to experience withdrawal. The symptoms related to cocaine withdrawal can be upsetting and may begin within a few hours after one’s last use. Some of the symptoms and effects that might develop within this period of withdrawal can include:

  • Disturbed occupational function
  • Extremely strong cravings for cocaine
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Disturbed social functioning
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams

Effects of cocaine overdose: When individuals abuse a substance like cocaine, they are putting themselves in danger of an overdose. An overdose happens when an individual consumes more of a substance that his or her body can handle. Since cocaine is highly potent and it crosses the blood-brain barrier quickly, individuals can easily consume more than they are capable of handling without noticing it. Therefore, if an individual overdoses on cocaine, it should be treated as a medical emergency and treatment should be obtained immediately. Some signs that could indicate that an individual is experiencing a cocaine overdose can include:

  • Cramping
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pains
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Seizures
  • Irregular breathing
  • Panicked feelings